Nose: Sweet caramel, fresh cut grass and ferns to start, with resin, sweet sappy wood and pine needles. Water adds in a hint of darker sugars (black treacle?) and a wisp of smoke.
Palate: Sweet and green with a dark wood smokiness. It’s surprisingly rich and dark in flavour, with liquorice and honeyed biscuits, as well as shot through with fresh herbal notes. Water makes the darker notes more noticeable, with liquorice, plums, raisins and cinnamon spice contributing to a grown-up fruitcake feel.
Finish: Demerara syrup, damp dark wood and light touches of appley fruit.
Comment: Much more unpeated than some of the other releases and great for it. It doesn’t feel like a typical Caol Ila, with lots of darker notes masking the usual freshness, and at almost 60% can happily take a good slug of water. A great send off for Billy.
Appearance: Clear, olive gold. Light beading.
Nose: At full strength, immediately clean, aromatic and fresh: like inhaling Friar’s Balsam. After this first blast, more reticent; softly sweet, then a vivid freshness like that of crisp green fruit or lemon zest. Water raises a fruity, nutty honeyed sweetness and a faint note of treacle, with perhaps just a hazy hint of smoke.
Body: Light to medium. Oily, yet firm.
Palate: Drinks well straight; has an intense and in your face style, with a most appealing smooth, lightly oily texture. Firm, clean and fresh throughout. Intense and mouth-filling, with a great initial surge of sweet spiciness unaccompanied by the usual signature phenols of peated Caol Ila or indeed, much fruit. Becoming honey-nutty (nut brittle, with a dark edge of treacle bitterness) then finally, warming and drying. A good splash of water develops these flavours; it’s tongue-coating and appetisingly bitter-sweet now, leaving a spicy dryness as the tide of flavour ebbs.
Finish: Aromatic, spicy and drying; a balancing bitter edge embraces more of the soft nutty, biscuity notes, always maintaining that essential freshness overall.